Thursday, April 9, 2009

Are you Unemployed? Obama Offers Additional Help

For millions of jobless people dependent on unemployment benefits, the wait for help may be getting shorter.

After computer system crashes and overwhelmed phone lines at state unemployment offices inundated with record claims, federal funds are starting to ease the jam, says Richard Hobbie of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. The $500 million from the economic stimulus package President Obama signed Feb. 17 began flowing into state coffers in mid-March.

The aid is separate from the package's $7 billion for enhanced employment benefits, which some Republican governors, including those of South Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, Alaska and Mississippi, have rejected because they say it would lead to higher business taxes when the federal funds end. The administrative funds are meant to improve claims processing and help the jobless find work.

"Now it's a matter of getting the money and spending it on the right things," Hobbie says. He predicts those filing for unemployment benefits "will see more reliable and faster service and more help at finding a new job."


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